Cloudy Bay wins for Kiwis

Cloudy Bay brings its wines to the Round the Island Race, while in Bermuda at the America’s Cup it is all about the rum.

Cloudy Bay comes to Cowes

From South Island, New Zealand to the Isle of Wight Round the Island Race comes Cloudy Bay, dubbed ‘the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world’.

Sailing folk will know of New Zealand as a source of world-class yacht racing skippers and crew from Round the World, One Ton and America’s Cup races. Not quite so well known are the high quality wines produced in the Marlborough region in the north-east of South Island.

In a neat piece of serendipity, Cloudy Bay is the presenting sponsoring of this year’s Round the Island Race on 1 July. It is a great opportunity to discover more about the distinct characteristics of NZ wines.

The country is a relatively small wine producer but the quality is universally acclaimed. The ‘terroir’ is important. 75 per cent of NZ’s wine growing and production is squeezed into the Marlborough region (named after English general John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough).

Here the summers are bright and the nights cool, creating a long grape-growing season. The vines are planted in ancient alluvial soil which generates the cool climate style and fruit-intense flavours that characterise typical NZ wines.

Cloudy Bay itself was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after the muddy water, not the sky. The Cloudy Bay winery was founded in 1983, the first vintage of Sauvignon Blanc was released in 1985 and it became available in the UK in 1996.

The winery produces several wine styles but will focus on its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir for this year’s Round the Island Race.

The Sauvignon Blanc is famous for its intense aromatic tropical fruit and herbaceous flavours and gooseberry nose, a distinctive profile for what many wine critics say is the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.

The Pinot Noir, aged in French oak barrels delivering intense fruit taste and nose, is classic NZ style.

NZ wines now account for six per cent of the UK market, up from one per cent 10 years ago. In general NZ wines are all premium quality, mostly in the £15 to £20 a bottle range. At Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is priced at £21 and the Pinot Noir at Majestic is £29.70 a bottle.

But there are other brands and other ‘Bays’ from the same region at single digit prices to gain insight to the NZ wine experience. Try Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc at £9 or Coolwater Bay Sauvignon Blanc at £8, both at Sainsbury’s.

At Aldi, from their Exquisite Collection range, try Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc £5.89 or Freemans Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2016 at £7.49. They have a very drinkable Pinot Noir £6.99 but it is quite light and the typical NZ earthiness on the palate is subtle rather than dominant.

Dark & Stormy in Bermuda

Meantime, the America’s Cup Match starts this month on 17 June. Goslings Black Seal Bermuda dark rum has been the official rum of the Cup and the Louis Vuitton series since 2016.

Goslings is Bermuda’s oldest commercial company, founded in 1806 by Englishman James Gosling and is still in family ownership.

Black Seal rum and their own ginger beer make the famous Dark & Stormy cocktail, which is globally trademarked to Goslings. “If it’s not Gosling’s rum it isn’t a Dark & Stormy,” they proclaim.

It is a traditional dark rum with intricate hints of butterscotch, vanilla and caramel and listed by Waitrose at £24 per 70cl bottle at 40 per cent abv. If you were not the lucky winner of a year’s supply of Goslings rum in April’s All at Sea, it is certainly worth trying to get into the spirit of Bermuda’s main event.